Health Library

Coping Strategies to Avoid Harming a Baby

Topic Overview

Caring for a baby can be difficult and frustrating at times. Most parents have periods where they feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and extremely frustrated. Help manage your frustration and anger by learning healthy ways to handle the stress of child care. You can learn techniques to help you stay in control of your emotions when everyday pressures mount. The following strategies can help you function in a loving and healthy way with your baby.

Prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed

  • Learn about child development, child health, and effective and safe behavior management. This information can help you understand and deal with your baby's behavior and changing needs. Call your hospital for information about parenting education classes, or look for books in your local library.
  • Talk with other parents about the ways they cope with the demands of child care.
  • Take short relaxation breaks when you can. For example, listen to your favorite music, or do breathing exercises while your baby naps.
  • Ask for help when you need time for yourself. Ask trusted friends or family members to take care of your baby, or trade a few hours of occasional babysitting with a friend who has a child. If you do not have this kind of support, contact your health professional or local hospital for community organizations that can help you.
  • Understand that the average baby cries from 1 to 5 hours out of every 24 during his or her first few months of life. Sometimes a crying spell can last between 15 minutes to an hour for no obvious reason. Crying peaks around 6 weeks, then gradually decreases.

Recognize the danger signs

  • Put your baby in a safe place, such as a crib, and go into another room if you feel that you might lose control and hurt your baby. Call a friend or family member to come over and relieve you for a while. You can also call a hotline to discuss your feelings and get immediate help. For example, call the ChildHelp hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
  • Get immediate help from a health professional if you have shaken your baby or if you are concerned that you might harm your baby.

For more information, see the topics:

  • Child Abuse and Neglect.
  • Choosing Child Care.
  • Crying, Age 3 and Younger.
  • Growth and Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months.
  • Growth and Development, Newborn.
  • Stress Management.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised February 16, 2011

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